London Wetlands Centre Offers Unique After Dark Experience

Illuminature is a magical illuminated landscape at Barnes wildlife reserve

Wetland centre Illuminature entrance tunnel

Families and friends looking for a unique night out are able to visit the London Wetland Centre in Barnes after dark to enjoy a magical illuminated landscape and experience a totally different perspective on wildlife.


ILLUMINATURE, featuring giant light sculptures of wetland wildlife, interspersed with magical, playful installations, including light tunnels and responsive lily pads, has just opened at the award-winning WWT London Wetland Centre.


The interactive wild experience offers the chance to enjoy nature under the stars at the 105-acre reserve until January 9.


The illuminated trail features huge, beautifully lit wetland wildlife models including a heron, Nene goose, otters and an owl, amongst many others. In total, there are 214 different elements that make up the illuminated trail.


Lisa Woodward, Centre Manager at London Wetland Centre, said: “Children will love the lily pads they can jump on which light up, switching on sculptures with interactive buttons, and having fun with the shadow play in our lodge.


“A personal favourite is one of our bridges, which has been lit up with a kingfisher, lapwing and oyster catcher perching on the edge of it – I think couples will love to take a moment to gaze across the water. There is something for all ages, and we hope that everyone will appreciate its beauty.”


We visited to check out the experience and were immediately captivated by the brilliantly lit blue entrance tunnel, which whisked us away from urban south west London.


As we strolled around the pathways between the centre’s reed beds and lagoons there was something to wonder at around every corner and the atmosphere was surprisingly tranquil.


Helpful staff told us not to miss the vibrant green lily pads, which came to life when you stepped on them. The surrounding trees were then drenched in green light, creating a fairy-like setting.


I enjoyed hearing the resident wildfowl making their night-time calls and there was enough light to spot ducks paddling along the pathside streams. Recent autumn arrivals at the wetlands include shoveler and wigeon ducks as well as the first bittern of the year.


Set in the context of the London skyline, it was certainly a special place to be in the evening. I did have the additional benefit of a near full moon, but you don’t have to plan your visit around the moon’s phases to have a magical evening.

Illuminature lilly pads

Wetlands Illuminature


Lisa Woodward added: “ILLUMINATURE is the first event of its kind that WWT, in partnership with Lumagica and MK Experience, has run. It’s a magical way to convey wetlands and to really engage adults and children in wildlife and conservation.


“We hope the trail will inspire them to fall in love with and learn about the importance of wetlands.”


Adele Hodson, Managing Director of MK Experience, part of Lumagica who have 25 years of experience in engaging indoor and outdoor events commented: “This is an exciting new venture, and we are delighted to be partnering with WWT on this fabulous experience for everyone who loves wildlife or simply wants a unique and fun night out under the stars. We are proud to support WWT’s conservation work and are pleased to be part of an event that helps support this.”


  • WWT London Wetland Centre is an international award-winning visitor attraction. It is home to a wide range of wildlife species including birds, water voles, bats and amphibians. It was the first urban wetland centre of its kind when it opened in 2000 and is one of ten wetland sites run by the charity, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). 
  • ILLUMINATURE is hosted by WWT and Lumagica, in association with MK Experience. It is open every evening until Sunday 9th January, from 4pm (5.30pm in October) until 10pm, on Thursdays to Sundays. It is open daily until Sunday 31st October and from Monday 19th December – Sunday 9th January. The event is not open on Christmas Day. 
  • Tickets are priced at £17.50 for adults and £12.50 per child and must be pre-booked online at


By Sue Choularton

October 25, 2021